Associate Bonus Watch 2011, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Debevoise and Plimpton Matches S&C

This is my least favorite post to write every year. The Debevoise & Plimpton bonuses were just announced. So now it’s time for me to sit back and marvel at how much money I personally left on the table when I decided to quit Debevoise what feels like a lifetime ago.

In fact, the very first time I can remember hearing about the website “Above the Law” was when a person sitting next to me in a cubicle at the New York Press said: “Jesus Elie, your old firm just paid twice as much in bonus than we’ll make this year. It’s all over this Above the Law site.”

Ah, but it’s not like that this year. This year, Debevoise is just matching the S&C bonuses that aren’t overly impressive. Bottom rail on top now, mister….

Debevoise doesn’t mention anything about spring bonuses, either. But should Cravath or S&C dictate that’s where the market should be, D&P will be sure to follow. Here’s the memo:

We are pleased to announce that U.S.-based associates in good standing will receive year-end bonuses this year at the following class levels:

2010: $7,500
2009: $10,000
2008: $15,000
2007: $20,000
2006: $25,000
2005: $30,000
2004: $37,500
2003 (and
senior) $42,500

The bonuses, which will be subject to the usual pro-rations for part-time arrangements and lengths of service of less than the entire year, will be paid at year-end. To be eligible, an associate must have
been employed at the firm prior to September 1, 2011.

We very much appreciate your work throughout this year. Your contributions are a critical part of providing superior service to clients and building the firm. Thank you.

Michael Blair
For All Partners

So, I was class of ’03 so that’s… Christ monkeys.

But former Biglaw disciples can’t think like that. If I was still at Debevoise, I’d probably be on my second marriage and be just starting the “passed over for partnership” watch. My debts would be paid, but my lifestyle would be so expensive that I couldn’t even imagine making a dollar less than my Biglaw salary. I’d be on my eighth year of doing something I didn’t want to do, and at that point I’d have become a completely different person. For better or for worse, the person I am would not exist.

The grass isn’t always greener… even when it is occasionally much more lucrative.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of bonuses

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